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A Libertarian Christmas

Reason editor Nick Gillespie asks, "Do you remember when you were a kid, and your parents gave you $20 to buy them a Christmas present? You would buy them something worth $3 and you would pocket the rest."

Yeah! And you remember when you were a teenager, and you killed your neighbor's dog, and turned the dog's carcass into sausage, and then gave the sausages to your neighbor as a present and told them it was venison?

Wait, you didn't do that? Actually, I didn't either. Nor did I celebrate traditional holidays by stealing from my parents. What kind of person would do that? Moreover, what kind of person would assume that everybody else does this? Do all libertarians think this way?

In my review-essay about Ayn Rand last year, I wrote:

Around the age of five, [Rand]'s mother instructed her to put away some of her toys for a year. She offered up her favorite possessions, thinking of the joy that she would feel when she got them back after a long wait. When the year had passed, she asked her mother for the toys, only to be told she had given them away to an orphanage. Heller remarks that "this may have been Rand's first encounter with injustice masquerading as what she would later acidly call ‘altruism.’ " (The anti-government activist Grover Norquist has told a similar story from childhood, in which his father would steal bites of his ice cream cone, labelling each bite "sales tax" or "income tax." The psychological link between a certain form of childhood deprivation and extreme libertarianism awaits serious study.)

Perhaps the link applies to exploitative familial relationships in both directions.